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Badghis provincial council performance a mixed bag

QALA-I-NAW (Pajhwok): Some residents of northwestern Badghis province are dissatisfied with the performance of the local government and the provincial council, while others praise the council’s role in resolution of public problems.
Mohammad Usman, a resident of the Badghis capital Qala-i-Naw, says the provincial council is the only forum where people could take their complaints and share their problems with public representatives.
The panel has been able to resolve tribal disputes that sparked bloody clashes between rival groups in Abkamari and Lalazar districts of the province.“The provincial council is a body to which we can refer our problems for solutions; we are pleased with how it is working,” he adds.
Mohammad Shoaib,who belongs to the Pahlawanan village of Aab-i-Kamari district,confirms some tribal dispute have been settled by the council, which has been trying to prevent future differences cropping up among the people over a pistachio forest in the area.
However, Shoaib explains the council has not been successful in implementation of reconstruction projects, including asphalting roads.Aab-i-Kamari has been a stable and peaceful district, but it has lately been hit by insecurity. He asks the council members to resolve the problem with the cooperation of security organs.
On the other hand, civil society activist Saifuddin claims the council has done nothing for the people of Badghis. “The members of this council only work for their own interests,” he alleges. Residents and members of civil society have raised the issue of potable water shortage in some parts of the province with the council several times.
Completion of the Herat-Badghis highway has also been an important problem that has been shared with the council, parliament and several government officials, but no one has paid attention to people’s plight, the activist complains.
He calls for the provincial council to go beyond verbal assurances and directly raise people’s problems with the authorities concerned. Saifuddin, however, acknowledges the panel is trying to be of some service to the people but its approach needs to be reformed.
Residents of Maqur and Aab-i-Kamari districts are faced with a severe shortage of drinking water. Consumption of unfit water has caused people some health problems. Around 200,000 people in the province do not have access to clean potable water.
Saifuddin says work on the Herat-Badghis ring road came to a halt a year ago and a 35 kilometers stretch that had been graveled was washed away by floods. The project was launched in 2012 when the public works minister said the road would take three years to complete.
Asian Development Bank is funding the $456 million project that connects western provinces with the northern region and links Afghanistan with Central Asian countries. However, the slow pace of work has been a nuisance that has prompted people to move the council for resolving the issue.
Another important project for importing power from Turkmenistan to Qala-I-Naw has also come to a standstill, Saifuddin adds. The people and civil society activists have raised their voice through the media for completing the scheme, but the government has paid no heed to their calls.
For his part, Badghis provincial council head Bahauddin Qadsi insists they have addressed some problems, including tribal disputes in Jawand, Qadis, Aab-i-Kamari and Maqur districts. But he admits lack of potable water, electricity and implementation of the ring road are issues that linger on.
But Qadsi says they have shared the problems with the officials concerned but remedial steps have not been initiated yet.“The provincial council is overseeing the performance of local departments and share the result of its discussions with the public,” he concludes.

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